University of Minnesota

Integrative Biology & Physiology

Metzger, Joseph, Ph.D.

MEDIBP2 - image 180x222 - joe metzger bio

Academic Title

Professor and Department Head


University of Wisconsin, Madison, Post Doctoral Studies, 1991
St. John's University, B.S., Natural Science, 1980
Ball State University, Muncie, IN, Biology and Exercise Physiology, 1982
Marquette University, Ph.D., Biology/Physiology, 1985

Contact Info




Office Address

6-125A Jackson Hall
321 Church Street S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Mailing Address

321 Church Street S.E.
6-125 Jackson Hall
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Bio Statement

Joseph M. Metzger is Professor and Chair of Integrative Biology and Physiology at the University of Minnesota’s School of Medicine. He is a member of The Lillehei Heart Institute and holds the Maurice B. Visscher Endowed Chair in Physiology.

Metzger received a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Science from Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota (1980), a Master’s degree in Biology and Exercise Physiology from Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana (1982), a Ph.D. degree in Biology/Physiology under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Fitts from Marquette University Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1985), and performed post doctoral studies with Dr. Richard Moss at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin (1991). His lab created a cardiac muscle-cell system that allows the transfer of genes into heart cells in order to assess the impact of those genes on the production of force and motion, the major function of cardiac muscle cells. The approach has the advantage of shedding light on the primary role of a normal or mutated gene in an otherwise normal muscle cell.

Developing the technique, however, was a considerable task as the technology to transfer genes and culture differentiated muscle cells was largely unproven at the time. Metzger’s findings have been published in top peer journals including Nature, Science, Nature Medicine, the Journal of Clinical Investigation, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Heart Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the Federation to Eradicate Duchenne, and has opened the path to treatment for a variety of heart diseases.

Research Interests

  • Integrative systems biology of cardiovascular function
  • Cardiac gene therapy
  • Transgenic models of heart disease
  • Molecular mechanisms of sarcomere function
  • Human iPS cell cardiac myocytes


1976, Saint John’s University Academic Scholarship; 1979, NCAA Track and Field All-American; 1984, Marquette University Research Fellowship; 1985, Pharmacia Award for Exceptional Achievement in Biological Research by a Graduate Student; 1986, NIH National Research Service Award; 1991, Whitaker Foundation Biomedical Research Award; 1992, Young Investigator Award, American Heart Association Snowbird Conference; 1993, Boots Pharmaceutical Heart Failure Research Prize Finalist; 1993, Young Investigator Award, American Heart Association, Asilomar Conference; 1994 Established Investigator, American Heart Association; 1995-, Associate Editor: Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics; 1996, Council on Circulation Research Award Finalist; 1996, Edgar D. Prince Research Award; 1998, American Heart Association Cardiovascular Research Prize Finalist; 1999/2001/2002, Finalist, Kaiser-Permanente Award for Excellence in Medical Student Teaching; 1999, Elizabeth A. Crosby Medical School Teaching Award; 1999, Michigan Medical Student Award for Teaching Excellence; 2000 & 2003, Michigan Medical School Teaching Recognition; Full member, NIH Cardiovascular A (CVA) Study Section (1999-2003); 2002, Faculty Recognition Award, University of Michigan; 2005-2012, Editorial board, American Journal of Physiology/Heart and Circulation; 2007-, Chair, Scientific Advisory Board Phrixus Pharmaceutical Incorporated; 2009, Robert P. Wade Lectureship University of Maryland; 2009, John Coulter Lectureship University of Alberta; 2010-, Editorial Board, Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research


Yasuda S, Townsend D, Michele, D, Favre E, Day S, and Metzger JM. Dystrophic heart failure blocked by membrane sealant poloxamer. Nature. 18:1025-9. 2005.

Day, S.M., M.V. Westfall, E.V. Fomicheva, N. La Cross, S. Yasuda, K. Hoyer, J.S. Ingwall, Metzger JM. Histidine Button Engineered into Cardiac Troponin I Protects the Heart from Ischemic Contractile Failure. Nature Medicine. Feb;12(2):181-9, 2006.

Herron TJ, Devaney E, Turner I, Mundada L,Westfall MV, Day S, Guerrero-Serna G, Arden E, Metzger JM. Ca2+-independent Positive Inotropy by Cardiac Myosin Heavy Chain. The FASEB Journal. Feb;24(2):415-24. Epub 2009 Oct 2.PMID: 19801488, 2009.

Townsend D, Turner I,Yasuda S, Martindale J, Shillingford M, Kornegay JN and Metzger JM. Severe cardiac injury and ventricular dilatation in dystrophic dogs prevented by chronic administration of membrane sealants. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 120(4):1140–1150. doi:10.1172/JCI41329, 2010.

Townsend D, Yasuda S., Elizabeth McNally E, Metzger JM. Distinct pathophysiological mechanisms of cardiomyopathy in hearts lacking dystrophin or the sarcoglycan complex. The FASEB Journal. Sep;25(9):3106-14. PMID: 21665956 2011.

Palpant NJ, Houang EM, Sham YY, Metzger JM. pH-Responsive Titratable Inotropic Performance of Histidine-Modified Cardiac Troponin I. Biophysical Journal. Apr 4;102(7):1570-9, PMID:22500757, 2012.

Wang W, Barnabei BS, Asp M, Heinis F, Arden E, Davis J, Braunlin E, Li Q, Davis J, Potter JD, and Metzger JM. Noncanonical EF-hand Motif Strategically Delays Ca2+ Buffering to Enhance Cardiac Performance. Nature Medicine. In Press. 2013.

PUBMED Link to Publications

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